No T&T permanent residency or citizenship for Venezuelan registration applicants, says National Security Minister Stuart Young.
He was responding to remarks by the Venezuelan Ambassador Carlos Perez that registrants may have a chance for permanent residence or citizenship with the current registration drive.
Young also responded similarly when queried on the matter by the Opposition in Parliament on Monday.
Queries arose after Newsday on Monday reported that Venezuelan Ambassador to T&T Carlos Perez said (on I95.5 FM radio) that Venezuelans who are legally registered through Government’s current registration process, “will have another opportunity to apply for residency or citizenship in T&T or get a legal work permit.”
The report has caused a buzz among some Venezuelan networks and groups in T&T.
Young, however, shot down that interpretation of Government’s amnesty/registration process which ends Friday.
Responding to Guardian Media’s query, Young said, “When we announced the registration policy, we specifically stated that the registration process will not count or be utilised towards citizenship or residency—that is express policy.”
In Parliament’s Question Time, UNC MP Roodal Moonilal asked Young if he agreed with the Ambassador’s statements on the issue.
Young told Moonilal, “No, as we specifically said when we announced the policy eight weeks ago, nothing with the registration of these people from Venezuela gives them anything under the Immigration Act towards becoming citizens or residents of T&T—we were very specific on that. This (registration) is a one year period for humanitarian purposes.”
Young also hit the Opposition for what he said was xenophobia on the Venezuelan issue.
He replied in that vein when asked by UNC MP Vidya Gayadeen-Gopeesingh what measure are being implemented to address the increase of robberies involving Venezuelan nationals.
Young, however, replied instead, “There’s no doubt in our minds that what they’re (Opposition) promoting is xenophobia.
In fact, this morning at our meeting with National Security heads, I drew it to their attention there’s a specific plot by certain persons...”
UNC MP Rodney Charles cut off Young, objecting that Young was imputing improper motive.
However, Young continued, pointing out that three of the four questions on yesterday’s Parliament agenda were all based on Venezuelan issues. He added, “The Venezuelans aren’t the major cause of crime in T&T.”
Young said yesterday’s security heads meeting examined issues including on how to deal with the continued suggestion that the Venezuelans are the source of all crime.
He added that security heads are also handling human trafficking, elements of organised crime and elements who may be involved in criminal activity and may be of Venezuelan nationality. “But they’re not the only ones involved in crime,” he added.
Moonilal asked if he agreed with the Police Commissioner’s statement that the “ill advised and ill conceived” opening of T&T borders has left this country at the mercy of criminal elements coming from Venezuelan.
Moonilal said the CoP wasn’t an Opposition MP.
Young said he didn’t know the CoP made those statements.